iPlayer Radio What's New?
On Now : Thinking Allowed
Global Clothing and Poverty; Fur Inheritance in Poland

Pilgrim, a dark fantasy drama for Radio 4

Tuesday 31 August 2010, 13:36

Marc Beeby Marc Beeby Producer

Tagged with:

Lessingham Church, Norfolk

Editor's note: today we start a four-part series of posts about a chilling fantasy drama called Pilgrim which you can hear in the Afternoon Play slot starting today at 1415 and for the following three weeks. Producer Marc Beeby has been keeping a production diary - SB

To the drama studio in Broadcasting House for the first day of eight recording a new series of Pilgrim. Co-producer Jessica Dromgoole, the writer Sebastian Baczkiewicz and I are really excited to be making another series about poor, cursed William Palmer. We think we learnt a lot from making the first series and we're all very pleased to be re-entering this strange world with new stories that feel so tight and original. We're also delighted we've got such a good cast together. In addition to the incomparable Paul Hilton as our hero, we've also managed to get Claire Price, Luke Treadaway, Jamie Foreman, Judy Parfitt, Bill Gaunt and the redoubtable Anna Wing, still magnificent at 94!

The read through of the first episode goes well, although the world of Pilgrim needs a bit of explaining to some of the cast who haven't heard the first series. It can be a bit difficult getting your head round the hero being the best part of a thousand years old, or the idea that the person you thought was your grandfather is actually a malevolent faerie responsible for letting a whole church full of people drown during the Great Flood of 1757.

The cast are all so experienced and so good the recording is pretty straightforward and goes well. But we have two big technical challenges in this ep. The first is to make one of the characters suddenly speak with the collective voice of a 100 (drowned) people. What does this sound like? None of us knows. Easy to type this in a script, less easy to realise. We get the whole cast to speak the lines in chorus. Then we get them to whisper the lines. At the same time we experiment with different sorts of feedback effect and echo. One thing we all agree on: we want any moments of magic in this series to sound organic - to sound as though they come from nature, rather than signalling them with, say, tinkly music or zappy electronics. Some of the feedback and echo effects we try sound a bit manufactured. They won't do. We'll have to see what we can make of this when it comes to the editing.

Our other technical challenge is that two of the characters actually drown on dry land, with no water present (it's magic, you see), while another character is talking. This is tricky. In the end we decide to record the drowning character separately and then combine them with the speaking character in the edit. Jude Akuwudike is brilliant. He throws himself into it, spitting out great volumes of water, gargling and gurgling and thrashing about on the floor as if his life depended on it. Which I suppose it did. At the end of the take he gets a round of applause from us all. He deserves it. He is brilliant. He is also soaked.

Marc Beeby is Co-Producer of Pilgrim

Tagged with:


Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Brilliant story, horribly convincing sound effects! I can't wait for the next episode.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I thought I would register my frustration here to see if others experience was similar to mine. For the first time ever I actually tried to respond to a radio programs appeal to logon and register your thoughts but I drew a blank which confirmed my suspicion that these requests are best ignored. What I tried to do was post a request for subject matter for a 'case notes' radio 4 program but was unable to find how to do this despite being told on the program that I should just go to 'case notes' on the bbc website and register my suggestion. I did this but nowhere could I see where to enter suggestions for future programs? I

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    What is the music that accompanies the play?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I would love to listen to Series 1 of Pilgrim before embarking on this latest seies. Can I buy it from somewhere?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Again, what is the music that accompanies the play? I am suprised that this info. isn't included on the notes about the actors, production techgniques etc. I love the plays, very engaging ideas about the past and present colliding, and the presence of supernatural 'goings on' interlaced with now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I enjoy having my imagination ruffled with a series like this, there are few examples these days as reality is spread against the face, the window we can see through but hard to get through. So its great that R4 has commisioned a second series of Sebastian Baczkiewicz's very original tales to at least let the imagination fly, rather then the usual examples that populate the R4 plays that give us tales of our plight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    jen & francesca

    The title music used for Pilgrim is "The Lost Sheep" from an album called "Felefeber" Norwegian fiddle music.

    To can listen to samples if you look up the album on amazon.com

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Hi angied, There's a contact form on the Case Notes homepage. Fill it in and your message will be sent to the production team.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    The series is fantastic (literally) and I must agree with Parsival about imagination being ruffled.

    Are there plans for future series of Pilgrim?

    Is it/will it be available to purchase - download/cd or a book/script.

    A triumph as it clearly works so well on radio - rather than trying to create via visual media. The acting makes it so much easier and more gripping than reading a book (if books as good as this were available!)
    so I was drawn into the fantasy world straight away.

    Well done all involved - a great concept carried through brilliantly at all levels. It is what Radio 4 if for...

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Music for Pilgrim: if you go to youtube and search for "Annbjørg Lien - Den Bortkomne Sauen" then you can get the whole tune. Well chosen, haunting stuff.

    More, please..........


This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Some changes to the Radio 4 web site

Wednesday 25 August 2010, 15:06

Pilgrim, episode two: The Lost Hotel

Tuesday 7 September 2010, 11:24

About this Blog

Behind the scenes at Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra from producers, presenters and programme makers.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

Follow Radio 4

Follow BBC Radio 4 & BBC Radio 4 Extra on Twitter for programme highlights and interesting retweets. 

Woman's Hour Power List 2014

Identifying the top ten game changers operating in the UK today.
See the latest on our blog
Find out about this year's panel and theme
Woman's Hour Power List judges, 2014 Woman's Hour Power List judges, 2014


Identifying the top ten game changers operating in the UK today.


See the latest on our blog


Find out about this year's panel and theme